From hobby to business

Published 10:47 am Friday, May 22, 2009

IRONTON — What do you get when someone meshes a lifelong passion with an entrepreneurial spirit?

You get a thriving business that is ready to expand into the public eye.

For owner Dennis Thornton, that passion and entrepreneurialism has taken him from his home office and workshop to become the newest member of the downtown Ironton business community.

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Celebrating its grand opening on Memorial Day, Thornton Custom Cabinets and Supply brings the self-taught, woodworking skills Thornton has honed most of his adult life in private to the public forefront with custom-made furniture, moldings and cabinetry in a showroom setting.

Thornton Custom Cabinets and Supply is located at 113 S. Third St., a site most recently vacated by Grandview Warehouse Outlet. Its hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

With its warm pear and crimson colored-walls along with century-old ceilings and quarter-sawn floors, Thornton knew exactly what he wanted in selecting a storefront to expand into.

It was a decision he said was five years in the making since leaving his job as an economics professor at Ohio University Southern and making woodworking a full-time business.

“I started with a blank slate when we got the store and it gave me a visual presence that people can see that we are here,” Thornton said in describing the 800-square-foot showroom and 1,400-square-foot basement that doubles as his workshop.

Thornton took over the building on Jan. 1 and opened for business on April 1.

Even the window displays, highlighting a breakfast table with chairs and a child’s toy box, show Thornton’s intricate attention to detail and use of materials.

“The table and chairs has already gotten three orders since it’s been placed there,” Thornton said. “I wanted a visual display where people could be able to touch, see and feel the work.”

As for the work, just browsing through the store one can see the detail in every piece. For the corner hutches made from walnut and maple to the elegant quilt racks to the cutting boards near the front of the store constructed of cherry, oak, walnut and hickory.

Just building something from nothing is the enjoyment Thornton gets from woodworking.

“It is fascinating to me, to take a piece of rough cut lumber and turn it into something people will buy.”

Because of his experience in designing and constructing a variety of pieces, one additional option Thornton is able to offer is custom building. With more than a dozen books containing the hundreds of jobs he has designed over the years, Thornton can meet most any type of woodworking request.

“If you have an idea or a picture, we can draw it up,” Thornton said.

Also available for shoppers are a wide variety of arts and crafts and the “From the Lane” scented candle collection from Nanette Brown.

But for Thornton, the choice to put aside a successful education and teaching career to live through his passion and talent for woodworking and carpentry comes to knowing opportunities in the game of life do not come around often.

“I’ve thought about it quite often, but I think we made the right decision.”

The grand opening of Thornton Custom Cabinets and Supply is scheduled for Memorial Day, May 25 at 9 a.m. Cake and other assortments will be available along with drawings for a number of custom-made cutting boards.